Drowning Lily

A hidden danger in the swamp

The lily itself is not drowning, boy. It'll be you if you don't keep your wits about you.
— Swamp dweller to a curious child
  The drowning lily is an aquatic plant found in the swamps of central Caia, most prevalent in the country of Kaien. It is named for the unfortunate frequency of drowning accidents amongst young children in the waters where it grows.  




Despite its name, the drowning lily is neither a lily nor a water lily. It is, in fact, a species of pitcher plant.
The drowning lily has several large, round leaves that float on the surface of the water. Each dark green leaf has a lip that prevents water from flooding over the top. The largest of these is known as the primary leaf, and generally grows to around three feet across. The leaves that surround it are smaller, up to a third of the size.
  The primary leaf is not actually one solid leaf. It has a hidden slit across the middle, where the two halves of the leaf overlap. Underneath is a large bulbous chamber, or sac, which usually is around four feet deep. This chamber contains a pool of digestive acid, and the sides are covered in slippery, downward-pointing hairs. If prey - generally a frog, toad, or a small rodent - lands on the leaf, they fall through into the chamber and are trapped.   The surrounding leaves are known as satellite leaves. They provide a safe place for prey to sit, giving them a false sense of security. In the warmer months, pale yellow flowers the size of dinner plates join the satellite leaves congregating around the primary leaf. These are not used for reproduction, but they attract insects that in turn entice the drowning lily's prey.   The drowning lily has a large, single stem that extends down under the water. Smaller, thinner stems extend off this main stem, attached to both the satellite leaves and flowers. The main stem is thick and straight, and is full of air pockets that aid the plant's buoyancy.   At the end of the stem is a large, spreading root system. It stretches out to almost ten foot across, anchoring the drowning lily safely in the soft mud.

Alternative Names
Frog-Eating Waterleaf, Toadsnacker, The Queen's Favour
Cultivated drowning lilies have been known to live up to one hundred years. In the wild, the oldest known specimen lived to around seventy years old.
The average drowning lily has a primary leaf of around three feet across, with its digestive chamber being an average of four feet deep. Satellite leaves can be up to a foot across, though generally do not grow that large.   The largest known specimen's primary leaf was five and a half feet wide, with a digestive chamber seven foot deep. Rumours and stories of larger drowning lilies exist, though are currently unfounded.
by sandid


  The drowning lily reproduces asexually, meaning that it does not need another plant to procreate. When there are lots of nutrients available and the weather is warm, some of the satellite leaves will convert into baby drowning lilies. They will develop the split leaf and the underwater chamber, and begin to grow a root system from their stem.   When large enough, these young plants will detach from the parent plant. Though the waters are generally still, some of these plants can end up miles away from their parent through a combination of uncommon wind and the ripples formed by boats and large beasts.   Eventually, the stem and root system grow long and deep enough to anchor the young plant into place.


A close relationship exists between the drowning lily and the lily-shadow spider. The spider lives within the digestive sac, its exoskeleton having evolved to withstand the lily's acid. The barbed hairs on the spider's feet allow it to cling to the slick walls of the sac where other creatures cannot.   The lily-shadow spider cleans up any material that may take the plant longer to digest, such as bone. The spider extracts the nutrients from these materials and uses the remnants to construct a globular nest attached to the side of the digestive sac. This prevents the plant from becoming too heavy and sinking, and provides the spider with enough food for itself and any offspring it may have.   When the offspring mature, they can easily emerge from the slit in the leaf and travel to find homes of their own. Their feet do not break the surface tension of the water, and so they are easily able to skitter across the swamp.


The acid of the drowning lily is collected by several cultures throughout central Caia. The acid is often harvested from immature plants that are still attached to the parent. This is done to lower the risk of flooding and killing established plants.   In traditional Kaienese herbalism, the acid is used as a key ingredient in an ointment to treat a variety of acute skin conditions, such as boils or cysts.   In Eshua, a small vial of acid is consumed to deal with constipation. It is believed that the extra acid will aid with digestion.   The acid of the drowning lily is also a component to the lethal injection used in certain political executions in Caillah. The addition of this acid is believed to make the death particulalry painful.

A Fashionable Fad

The people who live in the Gravelands, a swamp in western Kaien, have the satellite leaves of the drowning lily as a staple part of their diet. An acquired taste, the leaves have been described as exceedingly bitter.   Currently, it has become a trend amongst the Kaienese court to serve these leaves at their banquets. In most cases, guests pretend to enjoy them to not appear rude or to have bad taste.

Cultural Significance


The Silent Maiden

  In the Palus Swamp in southern Eshua, it is believed that a drowning lily marks the home of a silent maiden.   These restless spirits are said to be young, childless women who drowned in the swamp. They lure children into the water because they long to mother them. When the child inevitably drowns, the spirit becomes distraught, and their desire grows stronger.
Across Caia, the drowning lily is believed to be a danger to small children living in or around the swamps. Whether it is because the child is trying to catch a frog or believes that they can sit comfortably on the leaves, several drowning accidents are attributed to them each year. In most cases, the child becomes entangled in the digestive sac, and the whole plant sinks under the weight. This kills both child and plant, which cannot recover after its sac is flooded with water. They are infamous enough that often even unrelated drowning accidents are blamed on them.   In Serukis, the drowning lily is used as a major part of the heraldry of the Low Lord Dunn and his family. Their land encompasses Serukis's largest swamp, which originally was intended to be a veiled insult from the crown. The family's ancestors, however, fully embraced the challenge and defiantly took the drowning lily as their standard.  

The Queen's Favour

One of the most famous stories surrounding the drowning lily is how it got its nickname - the queen's favour. Around five hundred years ago, Queen Alice II of Kaien was rumoured to have two drowning lilies in a private garden in the palace . It was also rumoured that these plants were much larger than typical. Stories vary, but the most commonly cited measurement is a primary leaf of ten feet wide.   It is said that when someone offended the queen, she would request from them a favour, though this was not a request they could refuse. This favour would be to serve as the next meal for her treasured drowning lilies.
Sebastian had been stripped naked, his wrists bound. The Queen did not attend, but still, he did not struggle. He still had his dignity. He was flanked by two guards, stone-faced. They almost looked bored by the occasion, as though this had happened too many times to count.   As they pushed him forward, Sebastian's bare feet slipped a little on the wet grass. One of the guards steadied him, gripping his elbow tightly as they continued to steer him towards the pond. The drowning lily was there, its enormous leaf shifting gently with the breeze.   Sebastian hestitated at the water, his face pale and fear in his eyes. I regret to say at that moment I looked away, afraid of what I might see. When I looked back, Sebastian was gone. The lily remained intact. The only sign that anything untoward had happened were the ripples that now lapped threateningly against the bank.  
- An excerpt from a contemporary journal
  Most modern Kaienese scholars believe these stories to be untrue - or, at the very least, greatly exaggerated. They argue that, even if the claimed size of the drowning lilies was accurate, this method of execution would sink and kill the plant. Despite this, however, the story is still accepted as fact by most of the Kaienese population.


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21 Mar, 2021 03:33

The worldbuilding here is just perfection. I love the addition of the small journal story, and also the Lore about how the digestive juices from the plant serve as both a constipation aid *and* a component to make executions more painful. I am wondering what it does for the pains of constipation.

Lead Author of Vazdimet.
Necromancy is a Wholesome Science.
21 Mar, 2021 12:37

Aww thank you so much. It... probably does not soothe the pains of constipation. D:

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
22 Mar, 2021 13:18

This article was a delight to read. You have added many other links to the plant like the Queen's favor story and it's different uses. I wouldn't want to drink acid to help my constipation though xp.   The symbiosis with the lily-shadow spider is my favorite. It's an original idea and also gives a nice explenation to how the plant manages to not get too heavy. great article! I will be sure to come back once the shrimps are replaced :)   I saw one small typo in the sentence ' for itself an any offspring it may have'. I assume this was supposed to be 'and'.

Feel free to check out my February Bestiary page if you want to see what I am up to!
22 Mar, 2021 15:28

Thanks so much! And thanks for catching that typo! :D

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
23 Mar, 2021 08:35

Oh seems like you added the art ^^ Great drawing of the plant, it looks like I imagined it. And now I think the lily-shadow spider is cute.

Feel free to check out my February Bestiary page if you want to see what I am up to!
23 Mar, 2021 14:11

Yay, thank you! :D

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
23 Mar, 2021 00:46

What an absolutely fantastic plant! And there is soooo much glorious detail added throughout! The drowning lily is a brilliant idea, and I love the depth with which you've described it. Going into the reasoning behind the flower, to attract flies that in turn attract prey for the plant? Fantastic!   I think my favourite parts are the symbiosis with the adorable lily-shadow spider (looking forward to an article on those? ;D) and the cultural significance about the nickname "The Queen's Favour". They're both just really great additions that bring even more life into an already excellent article.   What do you think would be the strangest thing anyone has ever found inside one of these, if they noticed before the acid digested the thing fully?   Wonderful work, Emy!

Cathedris, the world of God-husks and New Magic, welcomes you.

23 Mar, 2021 00:53

Honestly, when I was writing it, my brain kept picturing a calf - I think that'd kill the poor plant though. XD Probably the strangest thing that wouldn't kill the plant is some kind of bird. I feel like that would be pretty rare.   There will definitely be an article on the lily-shadow spider at some point in the future. And I am definitely basing them on the adorable jumping spider picture I found.   Thanks so much! <3

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Tobias Linder
23 Mar, 2021 07:39

I would say here that the plant is the minor part of this article. The worldbuilding surrounding the plant, the way you've managed to work it into its own place in the ecosystem, symbiosis et al is fantastic work.   This is marvellous work, and I'd be upset if this didn't win the challenge. Nothing to complain about. Awesome work, Serukis!

23 Mar, 2021 14:11

Aww, thank you so much. <3 I love tying in the cultures and everything when writing an article. I'm glad it worked! :)

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Grandmaster Gillymaya
Gilly-May Hartill
23 Mar, 2021 08:42

Honestly, I was hooked from the first quote! If your detail about the plant didn't make this article fantastic enough, the wordbuilding surrounding it is simply first class! A fantastic piece of work, well done.   Gilly :)   PS: What a cute yet grim little guy the Lily-Shadow spider is. I love it!

Gilly Hartill   Fantasy world builder, aspiring author & lover of all things RPG.
23 Mar, 2021 14:13

Aw, thank you! <3 I really appreciate it.

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
23 Mar, 2021 10:49

OMG the arts! <3 Nicely done! The side view is a wonderful touch, just puts some nice flavor on top of the descriptive words you already had. I seriously love everything about this article--every piece is full of intrigue and the details are so world-centered, just brings things to life when that happens. You've got places, culture, people, ritual (execution!), murderrrr! XD The Queen's Favour is not what I was expecting--how horrible (and delicious!). The journal entry is the perfect companion to the "rumors", too. Excellent!

You are doing a great job! Keep creating; I believe in you!
Luridity: Where love is love and life is lived. Contains NSFW content.
23 Mar, 2021 14:15

Thank you!! Murrrrderrrr!!! <3 I have a lot of fun making everything connected. :D

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
23 Mar, 2021 12:17

Oh wow, that is one hell of an article. You've managed to cover about every aspect of the plant while keeping it fresh and interesting! These spiders sound absolutely adorable, and I love both of the aspects you developed for the cultural significance- both of which are so so interesting. Fantastic work <3!

Creator of Arda Almayed
23 Mar, 2021 14:16

Thank you so much, TC! <3 I really appreciate it!

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Sage Rynn19
Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)
23 Mar, 2021 14:02

What an amazing plant. I love everything about it. From the way it reproduces, to how it feeds, and how it is used. I love the symbiosis with the lily-shadow spider in particular, but also the part about the silent maiden and the Queen's Favour. Very interesting plant and wonderfully written article. A joy to read and look at!

Author of Ealdwyll, a fantasy world full of mystery.
23 Mar, 2021 14:18

Thank you very much! <3

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Master Gege16
Gege Escriva
23 Mar, 2021 18:07

Whoooaa! At first, I'm glad to read new worl of you again!! And secondly...Seriously, what a wonderful article and really interesting plant! The images used, the art...and basically everything xD makes it feel very immersive in the world.   The first quote was already shocking, and then you did put a lot of detail in everything! I loved the deadly legends that are around this plant and the facts that it's a an aquatic carnivorous plant and it reproduces asexually despite having flowers are very interesting!   Plus, I liked a lot the pretty contradictory uses for a same compound (the acid), is amazing how something can heal or kill depending of how you use it! And is nice that despite feeling intimidating, this plant has a symbiotic relation with other species like this spider.

Explore the Kingdom of Moskova with me! Wonders and darkness await for you. Are you ready for the adventure?   Are you undecided about where to go on your vacation trip? Why don't you try to discover Ulan River with me?    
23 Mar, 2021 19:48

Awwww, thank you so much! <3 Such a nice comment, it means a lot. <3

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
23 Mar, 2021 18:44

Such a fun plant! I love how you have covered so many different aspects of the plant. Your text provides a very well-rounded view of the plant.

23 Mar, 2021 19:48

Thank you! <3

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
23 Mar, 2021 18:57

Emy, you've done it again. This is a stunning example of rich, beautiful world building. So much culture, so much intrigue, so much danger, and all so perfectly captured and cleanly presented. Well done!

23 Mar, 2021 19:49

Awww thank you, Maybe <3

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Master Brinsmead
Caitlin Phillips
23 Mar, 2021 19:00

The folklore of the Silent Maidens has given me CHILLS. The detail of Queen Alice's favours is also brilliant, and I just loved it. This has just been so much fun to read!

Cait x
23 Mar, 2021 19:46

Thank you! <3

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
23 Mar, 2021 20:15

Hello!   Thank you for this great submission! First of all, I love your use of custom CSS on this article, makes it more liverly. Similarly, your choices of design made the read really enjoyable.   As for the content itself, it was really well written! I liked the description of the plant, the final prose entry, and the information on folklore associated to the plant.   I have one small comment: You said that the symbiotic spider consumes materials harder for the plant to digest, such as bones. However, I don't feel like this would be the best deal for both the plant and its spider: bones and teeth contain a ton of nutrients useful for the plant (which doesn't need that much carbon since it can photosynthetize its own organic matter), and on the contrary the flesh would contain a ton of food useful for the spider, wouldn't it? Then again, Nature does what Nature does, and the entry is really good the way it is already: well done!

With love,   Pouaseuille.
23 Mar, 2021 22:47

Thank you very much for the comment! I really appreciate it. I'll definitely do a little more research about the spider thing. <3

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Jacob Billings
24 Mar, 2021 01:14

Sorry. Took me a painfully long time to manage to get to reading this article:   I really like the inclusion of all the artwork and details. It connects well with the tone of a plant designed to drown its victims. Though some things leave the reader pondering throughout the article, they are well woven in to ensure no question remains after the conclusion. The intermixing of fact followed by tales at the end is a wonderful touch, leaving the reader on a more creative high note.   In particular, the language of the contemporary journal is phenomenal, engaging the reader instantly. Despite being drastically different from the more academic tone adopted by the majority of the article, it fits well and is extremely enjoyable.   Wonderful work here! Well deserving of the three dozen or so like it's garnered.

24 Mar, 2021 01:31

Don't apologise at all! Thank you so much for your feedback - I always appreciate your comments. :)

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
24 Mar, 2021 08:16

Amazing plant and great article! I   love pitcher plants! I like all the explanation and "scientific side" of your article since I can recognise what you adapted from real pitchers which helps make everything seems plausible.   You plant is very devious, I love how it uses its flowers as bait and lulls its prey into a false sense of security :D   Fascinating details you have about your spiders too! (just a quick note, you have two "provide" almost next to each other in "and provides the spider with enough food to provide for itself and any offspring it may have.")   I love the uses people make of the acid – particularly the very painful execution - and leaves of the plants – and guests pretending to enjoy the leaves XD I'm guessing the plants can regenerate their satellites leaves. How quickly can they do so? I'd imaging there is a risk of overwhelming them and killing them if people don't wait for the plant to regenerate them…   Have people try to cultivate the plants themselves? I'd imagine you could transplant a young one to the pond of a garden and it could be great to get rid of rats…   Ooooh! And the lilies used by the queen to execute prisoners! Absolutely love this! XD (you have a typo in the quote with "hesitate" written as "hestitated")   And you have great arts, even if I loved your shrimps too :D

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24 Mar, 2021 13:08

Thank you for the feedback! I really appreciate it! :D And thanks for the things to think about. I will fix the typos! <3

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
24 Mar, 2021 17:00

I was not expecting a carnivorous water-bound plant! :D And the concept that it is used in traditional herbalism in some cultures, but we all know how traditional herbalism turns out

24 Mar, 2021 20:14

When I write the article about herbalism, I'll definitely be talking about how the Kaienese scholars feel about traditional herbalism, haha. :D   Thanks so much! <3

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
25 Mar, 2021 19:19

I'll be keeping my eyes peeled, that sounds like fun!

26 Mar, 2021 01:00

This article is so... complete! It has everything, and as others had said, the plant itself is even a small part of it, as it is SO rich in detail. I loved the section about the adorable spider, and I was so delighted by cute spider facts that the political execution side of things took me quite by surprise.   I love this plant, and it is super well thought <3

26 Mar, 2021 02:10

Hahaha, thank you so much! <3 It is a very cute spider, who would probably disagree with political executions if it had opinions on such things. :)

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Char Mulder
26 Mar, 2021 01:11

Omg I love this article. I especially love a good misleading name regarding its classification, lol.

26 Mar, 2021 02:10

Thank you! :D So do I.

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
27 Mar, 2021 03:45

I love the way you've organized this article, the myriad uses for the plant, and the entire Cultural Significance section is simply perfect. I especially love the nickname Queen's Favor.

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27 Mar, 2021 11:13

Thank you so much! ^_^

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Sage eccbooks
E. Christopher Clark
28 Mar, 2021 16:14

Emy, holy crap this is good! And just when I thought it couldn't get any better, we get that little story at the end from the contemporary journal!!!   The alternate names for the plant were a favorite part in the early-going, and the art throughout was just perfect. Nice, nice work! Totally deserving of all the likes it's getting.

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28 Mar, 2021 17:39

Thank you so much! <3 I really appreciate that. :D

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Journeyman David_Ulph
David Alexander
28 Mar, 2021 17:52

I feel like I'm going to be starting to repeat myself every time with your work! The further down the article you go the more and more you get sucked into the setting. All I can say is I love it, as to go into any more detail would be to honestly repeat the article back to you!   If I had to choose a favourite part, I think it would have to be the wee comment about the Dunn heraldry. I am a *massive* heraldry nerd and adore whenever that part of culture is ever developed!

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29 Mar, 2021 00:37

Thank you so much! :D I love heraldry too - I find it fascinating, particularly when there are stories behind why a particular symbol or colour has been chosen. :)

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Thicc Shrek
Thicc Shrek
29 Mar, 2021 11:39

Nice worlbuilding homie now gimme some of them leaves they lookin like a snacc.

29 Mar, 2021 14:02

Thanks! Though they are an acquired taste. :)

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
2 Apr, 2021 11:26

A wonderful article with well thought-out details! I especially like the symbiosis with the lily-shadow spider and the legend of the silent maidens. Also, it's great that the plant is unlikely to actually eat people, but that the deaths are rather explained by people getting stuck and sinking with the plant. And heh, the name "toadsnacker" made me chuckle. ^^

Creator of the Kaleidoscope System, an alien star system shaped by a colorful radiation source.   My pledge for WorldEmber 2022 turned Worlduary 2023
2 Apr, 2021 19:45

Thank you so much! <3 I'm glad. :)

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Luca Poddighe
4 Apr, 2021 12:32

Very nice article. Few, well-placed, connections with everyday life make it feel alive and the plant appears realistic enough.

4 Apr, 2021 13:23

Thank you so much, Luca! :D

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
5 Apr, 2021 10:11

A wonderful article Emy! I love the addition of the Silent Maiden and the Queen’s Favour. Such a well written article! <3

5 Apr, 2021 11:48

Thank yooou <3

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
9 Apr, 2021 05:30

Chilling and wonderful!

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9 Apr, 2021 12:58

Thank you! <3

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Mark Laybolt
13 Apr, 2021 14:58

Hey Emily! I've finally had a chance to come back to your article and see it without the placeholder shrimp - that sidebar picture is incredible (and I always liked the purple feathers)! I love the detail you've put into the mechanics of the 'trap' of your plant, and the sinister nuance of your closing story. Great work!

13 Apr, 2021 17:37

Awww, thank you! <3

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
13 Apr, 2021 21:47

Creepy! Yeah, the scholar criticism of the myth seems fair. So you should drug people before feeding them to the plant, so they can't resist.

Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young
14 Apr, 2021 10:54

Thank you! :)

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Thicc Shrek
Thicc Shrek
14 Jun, 2021 19:09


14 Jun, 2021 19:27

Thank you! It's so exciting! :D

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
2 Jul, 2021 20:35

What a unique plant. I love the bits about the Silent Maiden and Queen's Favour. There's so much information about how it works and what may not work. Really well done world building :D

~ Eliora Yona ~
2 Jul, 2021 20:55

Aw, thank you! :D <3 I had fun writing this.

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
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